Gideon Polya, “War, Deprivation & Denial. “Rosanna Madonna” painting”, MWC News, 8 September 2007, part cached by Google.
For an image of the huge ”Rosanna Madonna” painting (1.3 x 2.9 metres) see: http://www.flickr.com/photos/gideonpolya/3428526429/in/set-72157616584873236/ .
War, Deprivation & Denial. “Rosanna Madonna” painting
“Rosanna Madonna” is a huge and joyous painting of Mother and Child in the beautiful Christian tradition dating back to the Early Christian era. This huge painting (1.3 metres x 2.7 metres) follows a series of previous polemical paintings I have created to foster Respect for Woman and for Mother and Child, specifically: “Manhattan Madonna” (a very sad memorial to the 9/11 tragedy and the ongoing Third World Holocaust:: http://www.flickr.com/photos/gideonpolya/3429196820/in/set-72157616584873236/ ); “Sydney Madonna” (a glowing painting which declares that Mother and Child transcend the greatest works of Man, such as the beautiful man-made landscape of Sydney Harbor: http://www.flickr.com/photos/gideonpolya/3429287878/in/set-72157616584873236/ ); and “Melbourne Madonna” (that celebrates the simple joys of Mother and Child and ordinary living in Melbourne, now only recently supplanted by Vancouver, Canada as “most livable city in the world”: http://www.flickr.com/photos/gideonpolya/3429309944/in/set-72157616584873236/ ).
All these Madonna and Child paintings have the same fundamental, universal message of Love and Respect for Mother and Child that is basic to all Humanity. Indeed love and care for Children other than our own is technically called “allomothering” (“aunt behaviour” for females of the species behaving in this way) and is found in social primates such as the great apes and Man, Homo sapiens.
In his seminal book “The Selfish Gene”, Professor Richard Dawkins of Oxford University describes the evolution of female altruism by Darwinian natural selection. However, as explained by Dawkins, such evolution in Man has occurred through 2 mechanisms, one through selection for particular mutated forms of DNA-constructed genes (termed “alleles”) and the other through verbal and written transmission of ideas, or what he calls memes. Both mechanisms of behavioral evolution involve selection for traits that enhance human survival to reproduce and care for progeny.
The transmission of survival-enhancing Memes can be seen in the great moral messages of Humanity such as the universal “thou shalt not kill” and the even more fundamental “thou shalt not kill children”. Respect for Mother and Child is far more fundamental than the inspiration of one particular religious faith. Indeed it is likely that we are “hard-wired” genetically to respect and care for Mothers and Children. This can extend to care for the infants of other species as evidenced by the true “wolf child” stories of Indian children cared for and raised by wolves. Indeed I observed this behavior recently at the launch of a painting exhibition - during the speech by an eminent Art Critic journalist the attention of everyone was diverted by the charmingly clumsy antics of a tiny, black, Great Dane puppy belonging to a member of the audience.
Perhaps the most powerful “memes” in relation to Children - and hence implicitly in relation to their parents and especially their Mothers - are the words of Jesus in the Holy Bible. Here are some very well known injunctions of Jesus in relation to Care for Children and which He has presented very forcefully (the wonderful King James Version of the Holy Bible):
“Mark 9:42 And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea.
Mark 10:14 Suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of God.15 Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein. 16 And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them. Matthew 18:6 But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
Matthew 18:10 Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven. Matthew 18:14 Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.
Mark 9:42 And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea. Mark 10:14 Suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of God.15 Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein. 16 And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them.
Luke 17:2 It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.”
Yet today we have an extraordinary dichotomy in the largely nominally Christian West involving major political involvements of the so-called Religious Right in support of wars, invasions, occupations and an economic order that involves horrendous large-scale abuse of Mother and Child coupled with remorseless DENIAL of these realities. This goes beyond mere fear or selfishness as in Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan who helps the Jewish robbery victim while his fellow Jews “walk by on the other side”. This current Western Denial is deep-seated, promulgated by racist, lying, holocaust-denying Mainstream media and borne of a psychological need to deny participation in awful crimes.
Thus Australia as a whole largely ignores the horrendous abuses with which it is variously associated in Bush’s War on Terror – a war which is in horrible reality a War on Women and Children and more specifically a War on Arab, Muslim, Asian, Iraqi, Afghan, Lebanese, Palestinian, Somalian, South Asian, Non-European and Third World Women and Children. Thus the post-invasion excess deaths (avoidable deaths, deaths that did not have to happen) in the Occupied Palestinian, Iraqi and Afghan Territories currently total 0.3 million, 2.5 million and 4.5 million, respectively (mostly Women and Children; updated as of March 2010); the post-invasion under-5 infant deaths total 0.2 million, 0.8 million and 2.4 million, respectively (largely avoidable and due to US or US surrogate war crimes); and the refugees total 7 million (4.3 million registered with the UN), 5-6 million and 3-4million, respectively (plus a further 2.5 million NW Pakistan Pashtun refugees). One remembers the Holy Family and Their Flight to Egypt.
These horrendous realities are explored in book I recently published after years of careful research, writing, cogitation, discussions and editing. This huge book is entitled “Body Count. Global avoidable mortality since 1950” (G.M. Polya, Melbourne, 2007). In short, this huge book deals with the post-1950 avoidable mortality (excess death) Holocaust that has taken 1.3 billion lives in the World as a whole, 1.2 billion in the Non-European World and 0.6 billion in the Muslim World (a Muslim Holocaust 100 times greater in number of victims than the World War 2 Jewish Holocaust or the contemporaneous but “forgotten”, man-made Bengal Famine Holocaust of World War 2 British India). Each year 16 million people die avoidably throughout the world - on Spaceship Earth with the First World in charge of the flight deck. Most of these avoidable deaths are of Women and Children. Nearly 10 million of these avoidable deaths are of under-5 year old infants. Yet this carnage is utterly preventable at very little cost – but what prevents the Solution is denial of the Problem. As I conclude in my book:
“The continuing, horrendous global avoidable mortality is fundamentally due to violence, deprivation, disease and lying. We are one species confined to one planet and we revel in the richness of nature and human cultural diversity. The peace and cooperative community we commonly experience at the level of village, town, city and nation should apply internationally throughout Spaceship Earth. Intolerance of dishonesty, bigotry and violence, respect for human rights, international law and our common environment and commitment to truth, reason and a modestly decent life for everyone will end the global avoidable mortality holocaust and ensure that it will never be repeated.”
“Rosanna Madonna” was painted after talking to a very nice local clergyman about my recently completed painting “Jerusalem Madonna” (watch this space!). I declared that although I am an agnostic humanist we share a common commitment to “truth and right-ness” and that I would paint a Madonna and Child painting based on a Church in the heart of Rosanna, my own suburb in the Northern part of Melbourne.
The acrylic painting (1.3 metres x 2.7 metres) on double-primed high quality canvas incorporates an ecumenical conflation of Medieval Islamic Art (the 17 plane symmetry groups of Islamic tile Art), Christian Renaissance Italian Art (the deeply symbolic Fibonacci Sequence-, Golden Rectangle-, Da Vinci Code-based geometries of Italian Madonna and Child paintings), elements from the Australian landscape and from Indigenous cave-painting figures from 20,000 years ago and also includes modern abstract expressionist elements.
The Mother is blond and blue-eyed in reference to the original Rosanna, the wife of an early Anglo-Celtic settler of this part of Melbourne that is officially called “Banyule” (after the local Indigenous Australian Wurrundjeri word for “hill” ) and better known as “Heidelberg”, the historical site of the famous Heidelberg School of Australian Impressionist painters (such as Arthur Streeton, Walter Withers, Charles Conder, Frederick McCubbin, David Davies and Tom Roberts). The Mother is clad in the Palestinian garb that Mary would have worn.
The painting includes the most beautiful and utterly surrealistic nearby avenue of pinkish-grey-trunked gum trees (together with local Australian wildlife including birds, possums and kangaroos). The bottom of the painting includes a stylized facsimile of this local Church, its distinctive tower (the top of which and the associated crucifix appear as a symbolic key) and scores of adult and child worshippers in brightly coloured weekend clothing. Happily, two young observers instantly recognized the Church in the “Rosanna Madonna” as the venue for a Kindergarten and for Australian Girls’ Choir practice sessions, respectively.
The Infant is happy and wise - and by a wonderful, quite unintended accident (or the Spirit of the Painting taking over control), the Child appears to embrace the Image of the Rosanna Church and its scores of parishioners at the bottom of the painting. That indeed is the message – we must embrace all the World with the Love we must have for the Truth and Beauty of Mother and Child.